Dems plan ’100 Years of War’ campaign? Just ask McPeak

posted at 10:46 am on March 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Politico reports that the Democrats plan an election campaign accusing John McCain of wanting “100 Years of War”, but may have some trouble explaining how Barack Obama’s chief military adviser offered the exact same advice five years ago. The distortion of McCain’s remarks about how the US can secure its interests in the region has already been featured on the campaign website on Obama despite his association with General Merrill “Tony” McPeak and McPeak’s identical argument at the beginning of the Iraq invasion:

John McCain is scheduled to deliver a major foreign policy speech Wednesday in Los Angeles, one with a heavy Iraq focus, but chances are Democrats won’t be listening. They’ve already distilled his views into an easy to remember formulation: 100 years of war.

It is a reference to an offhand remark made by McCain in January about the possible duration of the U.S. presence in Iraq, a comment that Democrats now portray as the equivalent of the McCain Doctrine.

Though it’s not exactly an accurate representation of McCain’s views, Democratic strategists view the “100 years” remark as the linchpin of an effort to turn McCain’s national security credentials against him by framing the Vietnam War hero as a warmonger who envisions an American presence in Iraq without end.

“Not an exact representation”? That’s putting it mildly. McCain specifically made the point that he could not support indefinite combat conditions, but an American presence without American casualties would not be war at all. It would be very much like our bases in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, which kept the peace in those regions for decades after the shooting stopped in those war theaters.

At first, the Democratic insistence on misunderstanding McCain could be chalked up to simple military and historical incompetence, both of which the Democrats have demonstrated repeatedly over the last several decades. However, the revelation that Obama’s chief military adviser made the same argument to the Oregonian in 2003 removes stupidity as an excuse, leaving only dishonesty as the explanation:

Is Iraq the last country we confront in the Middle East?

Who wants to volunteer to get cross-ways with us? We’ll be there a century, hopefully. If it works right.

I’ll tell you one thing we should not hope for (is) a democratic Iraq. When I hear the president talking about democracy, the last thing we should want is an election in Iraq. We’re not very popular. So I don’t think we’ll see any open elections in Iraq for a long time.

Hopefully over time they can be brought along like Japan and Germany — Japan and Germany were relatively easy, I think, and South Korea.

Here’s what McCain said:

“Make it 100 [years] … We’ve been in South Korea . . . we’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, that’s fine with me. I hope that would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaeda is training, recruiting and equipping and motivating people every single day.”

Democrats, especially Barack Obama, need to explain the difference between McPeak and McCain. There isn’t any. McPeak even made this argument while opposing the invasion. That’s why Factcheck calls this a “rank falsehood” and a “serious distortion”. Politifact calls Obama’s rhetoric on this “false”.

Unless the Democrats want to argue that we’ve been at war in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, they haven’t got an argument. All they have are stupidity, lies, or a mix of both.

Update: Tom Maguire revises and extends his earlier look at Tony McPeak.


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100 years of calm is better than the current re-erupting, escalating chaos every damned decade.

That’s all McCain needs to reply.

profitsbeard on March 25, 2008 at 10:51 AM

McPeak knows precisely the context in which McCain submitted those remarks and that’s what makes McPeak so disgustingly repulsive. McPeak is just another has-been general looking for an ego pump.

rplat on March 25, 2008 at 10:56 AM

They’ll show “100 years” we’ll show Wright, Michelle and Obama himself. We’ll see in November what the American people think of each.

TheBigOldDog on March 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

I hope the dems run with this, it will show their blatant stupidity and hopefully most Americans are able to see through it.

saltydogg14 on March 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Obama and Hillary have been funding this war all along.

The Dem candidate will have to answer one simple question. Is Iraq our ally?

If so, how can we abandon them?

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

“Unless the Democrats want to argue that we’ve been at war in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, they haven’t got an argument. All they have are stupidity, lies, or a mix of both.”

As regards Iraq…so what’s new? If these people want to take on McCain on his strongest ground…using a lie so easily refuted…they must really have a political death wish.

tgharris on March 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

it would be nice if the two major parties could get together and call a truce on war rhetoric. It is harming us with our actual enemies watching this, not to mention the will of the people which they will need to govern.

jp on March 25, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Fake rage. How dare McCain tell the truth AND know what he’s talking about?! I guess if more of these people had been in the military they would realize that we have a military presence all over the world. Scoff.

blankminde on March 25, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Ask ObamaDamnAmerica how long we will stay in Afghanistan.

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM

This can’t be true. It makes it sound as if the Democrats were going to resort to the “politics of fear”. Everyone knows Obama is against that.

TooTall on March 25, 2008 at 11:02 AM

This “McCain wants 100 years of war in Iraq” will be a constant refrain from the Democrats unless, and until, John McCain puts a stop to it. It would be fun to wait until the ‘debates’ next fall, but it will probably have to be sooner.

Here is what he should say:

“If my opponent thinks he can fool the American people into thinking that I want to fight in Iraq for 100 years, then he’s a bigger fool than they are.  I said I’ve got no problem maintaining a presence in Iraq, once we have pacified the place, just as we do in Germany, Japan, Korea and a dozen other places.  It will be to our advantage to do so, and it will work for the stability of the Middle East as well.

“As Abe Lincoln said, ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.’ I know what I said, and the American people know what I said, and if my opponent thinks otherwise, then with all due respect, he’s a bigger damn fool than I thought.”

Something like that, if pronounced in the right venue, and maybe made into an ad, will get the media’s attention.

MrLynn on March 25, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Ask ObamaDamnAmerica how long we will stay in Afghanistan.

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM

maybe this is the strategy McCain should take, accuse Obama of wanting to “cut and run” from Afghanistan which will force Obama to come out with a plan there. Then call the hypocrisy.

jp on March 25, 2008 at 11:04 AM

Toss in 5 or 6 “my friends”

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 11:04 AM

All they have are stupidity, lies, or a mix of both.

How is that different from there other policy positions?

Harpoon on March 25, 2008 at 11:05 AM

Screwed up your quotes a bit there Ed, looks like you’re saying you hope Iraq doesnt go democratic and I think that’s McPeak.

So yeah this is red meat for the zombies, best bet is to just explain it, and let them yammer about it mindlessly. Rational people get what McCain meant.

I hope.

Dash on March 25, 2008 at 11:06 AM

Something like that, if pronounced in the right venue, and maybe made into an ad, will get the media’s attention.

MrLynn on March 25, 2008 at 11:03 AM

I love it, but McCain’s straight talk apparently doesn’t apply to his opponents. I guess his staff could put something similar out, but McCain would probably apologize for it. Maybe he’s just being smart and sitting back to let them fight it out? That keeps the target off his back somewhat, but it gives me the impression he doesn’t care enough about his own views to defend them.

blankminde on March 25, 2008 at 11:08 AM

The 100 years rhetoric is only red meat for the zombies, for sure. Indies are too smart.

But indies may not be able to withstand the constant MSM drumbeat of 100 years war,Bush McCain War, Bush Lied,4000 dead,memory lapse(age),hope and change, white folks in power, etc.

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 11:09 AM

I guess the real question is how long is McCain willing to sustain combat operations in Iraq(at a cost of $200 billion a year)?

And how long are the Iraqis willing to allow our troops being stationed in their country?

alphie on March 25, 2008 at 11:11 AM

I rather be in Iraq for 100 years than have 100 USS Cole incidents.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on March 25, 2008 at 11:11 AM

I guess the real question is how long is McCain willing to sustain combat operations in Iraq(at a cost of $200 billion a year)?

And how long are the Iraqis willing to allow our troops being stationed in their country?

I’m glad I don’t live my life as a parasite.

mymanpotsandpans on March 25, 2008 at 11:14 AM

The real question is, what is our mission? Explain what we are doing there. Talk about successes every week. We like heroes. Tell us about them. Fireside chats. Leadership.

Bush has failed in that regard.

McCain had his opportunity when he in Iraq last week. He failed. He came across as just another Senator.

McCain needs to step up.

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 11:14 AM

All they have are stupidity, lies, or a mix of both.

Throw in surrender and Socialism, and you have the Democrat party platform.

ReubenJCogburn on March 25, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Dems can run an ad half-quoting McCain, but RNC can counter with an ad claiming Democrats only want to tell you half truths, then show the Dem claim, McCain’s FULL quote, and finally the quote from Obama’s advisor. It’s an ad that nails the lack of integrity from Dems and the fact that “change” is just a marketing word for Democrats. Nothing more.

scottm on March 25, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Let’s not forget that the US military still deploys tens of thousands of soldiers in the war zones of Germany. And former Yugoslavia. And South Korea. And on Pacific islands. And on Cuba.

“… the illegal and immoral occupation of Germany …”
“… hands off South Korea’s oil!”
“… US out of Yugoslavia now!”

Niko on March 25, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Sorry, I left out abortion, and Democrats are all about the baby-killin’.

ReubenJCogburn on March 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM

McCain should announce he is giving a “Major Speech” on Iraq in a few days.

Then, afterwards, the NYT the Wash Post will describe it as the greatest speech since Lincoln.

/dreaming

faraway on March 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM

I actually think the old man can do it now. The Dems are showing so much incompetence that he might just do it.

p40tiger on March 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Team McCain needs to preempt this. And not with 30+ page press releases that nobody will read.

ninjapirate on March 25, 2008 at 11:29 AM

And by preempt, ask Obama if he wants to pull out of Japan, Korea, and Germany.

ninjapirate on March 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM

I guess the real question is how long is McCain willing to sustain combat operations in Iraq(at a cost of $200 billion a year)?

I think the cost is half that, last I saw was the war total around 500 billion so far.

that said, this is where the left talks about “unnecessary” “trillion dollar war”…when in reality we were spending a fortune before economically on our containment policy, so its not like we are spending 100 billion/year and had we not gone to war it would be zero cost.

jp on March 25, 2008 at 11:33 AM

I’m glad I don’t live my life as a parasite.

mymanpotsandpans on March 25, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Heh. Poor thing just cain’t get no traction can he? I keep remembering that correlation of insanity with repetition of unsuccessful activity.

a capella on March 25, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Clinton’s last defense budget was $286 billion for the year, jp.

This year’s defense budget is over $700 billion for the year.

$200 billion a year is a low ball estimate of the cost of the ongoing Iraq war.

alphie on March 25, 2008 at 11:35 AM

McCain spoke the truth. If you read Imperial Grunts, it is absolutely astonishing the vast numbers of places in which the US military serves. It is just a fact of life.

McCain’s point is spot on. Stationing service men and women at the epicenter of international terror and global energy resources makes a Helluva lot of sense. As he mentioned, so long as we’re not loosing people on an ongoing basis, how is this different from serving in any other global space?

I get the feeling that none of the political advisers close to the candidates has served in the military. Rather, those with military experience are segregated and only tapped for explicitly military topics. That’s why we end up with such myopic political statements from Clinton and Obama (political expediency and disingenousness being the other reasons).

moxie_neanderthal on March 25, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Well, it’s not like for the “cost” of the war we’re buying rounds from the ChiCom or tanks from France. *snicker*

In actual fact, most of the money is being spent at US companies. Cynical as it may sound, but the war is creating and securing jobs at home.

Niko on March 25, 2008 at 11:41 AM

It is harming us with our actual enemies watching this, not to mention the will of the people which they will need to govern.
jp on March 25, 2008 at 11:00 AM

HotAir did a post on the Harvard study a couple of weeks ago. I read the whole thing, and did a longer post, pulling out more of the salient points.

Point is, you’re exactly right, and this study proves it.

bikermailman on March 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Does McPeak oppose Gitmo and waterboarding? If not, he is to the right of McCain.

Valiant on March 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Let’s see, I’m 57. In a hundred years or so I’ll be 157.

Deal me in.

davidk on March 25, 2008 at 11:46 AM

Poor thing just cain’t get no traction can he? I keep remembering that correlation of insanity with repetition of unsuccessful activity.

I’m glad I don’t live my life as a parasite.

mymanpotsandpans on March 25, 2008 at 11:49 AM

In actual fact, most of the money is being spent at US companies. Cynical as it may sound, but the war is creating and securing jobs at home.

Niko on March 25, 2008 at 11:41 AM

That is correct. And if “it’s the economy stupid” a rapid shutdown of the War in Iraq will cause serious econimic woes.

But that will pale in comparison to the toll in human suffering.

And the backlash of another 9/11 will be devastating both in human lives and eco-chaos.

davidk on March 25, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Good point, Niko.

But those of us whose paychecks don’t depend on keeping the Iraq war going forever aren’t going to be that excited about the “job creation” aspect of it.

Nor do we take the pro war stance of anyone on the war dole very seriously.

Who wouldn’t support a forever war that got them government money every two weeks at no risk?

alphie on March 25, 2008 at 11:58 AM

“Not an exact representation”? That’s putting it mildly. McCain specifically made the point that he could not support indefinite combat conditions, but an American presence without American casualties would not be war at all. It would be very much like our bases in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, which kept the peace in those regions for decades after the shooting stopped in those war theaters.

OK, how long until the “shooting stops”?

100 years?

The truth is we don’t know, but the difference between the Dem camps and McCain is about the permanent presence, or the “till the shooting stops and beyond” vs. the “I think as long as we’re there, there will be shooting, so let’s leave in a responsible way” Perhaps that’s what the debate should be focused on.

ChenZhen on March 25, 2008 at 12:00 PM

it would be nice if the two major parties could get together and call a truce on war rhetoric. It is harming us with our actual enemies watching this, not to mention the will of the people which they will need to govern.

What makes you think that this isn’t the goal?

MarkTheGreat on March 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM

If Dems aren’t listening – ATTACK! McCain is a little too laid back. What’s worse is that the Republican party seems fully asleep.

History is the liberal Achilles heel. Hit em hard with Vietnam. How the Dems started it and Nixon ended it. The cost in lives and adjusted dollars. How there was no oil. How Dems forced Nixon to leave, precipitously and the humanitarian disaster that followed.

History. The words of Frederick Douglas. Mr. Obama you are no Frederick Douglas. (Mr. McCain you might have been old enough to know him – oops).

Agrippa2k on March 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM

CLinton’s last budget was unrealistically low. Any president who wanted to preserve the union would have raised it. With or without a war on terror.

MarkTheGreat on March 25, 2008 at 12:06 PM

I’m 59 years old and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to express outrage that there will be American troops anywhere when I’m 154 years old. Is McCain trying to ruin my old, old, old age?

snaggletoothie on March 25, 2008 at 12:06 PM

The Republican’s in Washington are in full blown Stockholm syndrome. After so many decades as the minority party, they have come to identify more strongly with thier captors than they do with the rest of us.

MarkTheGreat on March 25, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Did Obama really misrepresent the facts? I am astonished.

maybe he just wants out if Iraq to get on with that invading of Pakistan endeavor.

awake on March 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM

McCain should welcome each and every effort on the part of the Democrats, whether or not it appears superficially to be effective or potentially effective, to focus the campaign on security and foreign policy. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t reply and escalate in return: Every time he gets to re-explain his remark, he gets to reinforce the image of the Democrats as hopelessly at sea on foreign policy. If they persist in this 100 years of war canard, he could respond by saying that the choice is between 100 years of defeat, retreat and decline, and 100 years of standing up for ourselves and our friends.

CK MacLeod on March 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

The Democrats will be using propaganda it doesn’t matter if its true or not, if they say it enough, loud enough, from enough sources and outlets people will come to believe anything.

Chakra Hammer on March 25, 2008 at 12:45 PM

99 years says McCain, 99 years in Iraq.
Get through another one, 98 years in Iraq.

98 years says McCain, 98 years in Iraq.
Get through another one, 97 years in Iraq.

97 years says McCain, 97 years in Iraq.
Get through another one, 96 years in Iraq.

96 anos dicen a McCain, 96 anos en Iraq.
Pase el otro, 95 anos en Iraq.

95 anos dicen a McCain, 95 anos en Iraq.
Pase el otro, 94 anos en Iraq.

94 anos dicen a McCain, 94 anos en Iraq.
Pase el otro, 93 anos en Iraq.

MB4 on March 25, 2008 at 1:06 PM

If only Bush would have stated this from the start of combat operations. Instead of lying about an exit stratagy. Anyone with two brain cells would know that we would not invest 500billion, 4000 lives and then pick up and walk away one day. we will continue to pacify the region until the region no longer needs pacification and then we will keep the peace or at least try too. I see some oil doollars going to pay for our bases by the Iraqis in the near term.

unseen on March 25, 2008 at 1:12 PM

“Not an exact representation”? That’s putting it mildly. McCain specifically made the point that he could not support indefinite combat conditions, but an American presence without American casualties would not be war at all. It would be very much like our bases in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, which kept the peace in those regions for decades after the shooting stopped in those war theaters.

Stop treating Sharia-supreme Iraq like post-war Japan

President Bush, of course, frequently refers to the democratization of Japan as a model for the democratization of Iraq (and the wider Islamic Middle East). But, as Lewis’ must-read essay makes historically clear, the president has been comparing apples and oranges.

It isn’t just that the total defeat and utter devastation of Japan nullifies the comparison with Iraq (which it does). There is something else. There is the completely different U.S. approach to Japan’s animating, warlike state religion of Shintoism, which, not incidentally, bears striking similarities to the animating, warlike state religion of Islam.

In 1945, our government was of one mind regarding state Shintoism. Lewis quotes Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who wrote: “Shintoism, insofar as it is a religion of individual Japanese, is not to be interfered with. Shintoism, however, insofar as it is directed by the Japanese government, and as a measure enforced from above by the government, is to be done away with. … There will be no place for Shintoism in the schools. Shintoism as a state religion — National Shinto, that is — will go. … Our policy on this goes beyond Shinto. … The dissemination of Japanese militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology in any form will be completely suppressed.”

Obviously, there have been no analogous U.S. efforts to “de-jihadize” Islamic public culture even as the United States has spent lives, limbs, money and years trying, essentially, to stop the jihad in the Islamic Middle East — not even, to take a manageable example, in the U.S.-funded Palestinian Authority, where state-run media continue to incite Islamically motivated violence against Jews and Americans. And then there are all those U.S.-fostered constitutions that enshrine Sharia law — just the sort of ideological concession our forebears would never have made.
- Diana West

MB4 on March 25, 2008 at 1:25 PM

I can’t believe the Dems have the nerve to continue with this tactic. All one has to do is read the actual quote to understand that the Dems are deliberately misrepresenting what he said. Do they really think voters are that stupid? Apparently so.

juliesa on March 25, 2008 at 1:31 PM

Chakra Hammer on March 25, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Exactly, add a complicit and willing media and presto! Bush lied people died, 1 million Iraqi civilian casualties, blood for oil, etc. As for Obama, another lapse in judgment, just words….All hail the Messiah!

dmann on March 25, 2008 at 1:44 PM

Someone gonna push the Yankee imperialism button

Kini on March 25, 2008 at 2:13 PM

I think the General just misspoke. :)

ThePrez on March 25, 2008 at 4:16 PM

This has got to be the stupidest campaign tactic yet. Everyone knows that McCain (or the other candidates, for that matter) can serve as President for no more than 8 years, and after that, the decision to keep American troops in Iraq will be out of the hands of the next President.

In a Democrat debate, both Clinton and Obama said they expected American troops to remain in Iraq until the end of their first term (January 2013). All McCain has to do is play the tape of that debate in an ad, and say that he will keep troops in Iraq long enough to win the war and ensure a stable, peaceful, and friendly Iraq.

Steve Z on March 25, 2008 at 4:25 PM